Friday, 14 October 2011

5 knitting books that confirm what I already suspected: I suck at knitting

List by Tosca

'Everybody tells me that they would love to knit, but they don't have time. I look at people's lives and I can see opportunity and time for knitting all over the place. The time spent riding the bus each day? That's a pair of socks over a month. Waiting in line? Mittens. Watching TV? Buckets of wasted time that could be an exquisite lace shawl.'
- Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At knit's end: meditations for women who knit too much

Back in mid-June I was gung-ho for knitting. Once again I let my mouth disconnect from my brain and I rashly promised that I would give knitting a go and make a scarf within six weeks. In the bigger scheme of things, it's not that huge a deal. But the reality of it, OH DEAR GOSHNESS, the reality of it! I am a total #fail knitter who has all the co-ordination and grace of a seal out of water.

My maternal great grandmother's name is well known on the east coast of New Zealand for her weaving. I have distinct memories of Nana Pani (Whanaupani McClutchie) and my maternal grandmother, Nana Rongo (Rongomaitauarau Pohe), weaving, knitting, crocheting, macrame-ing (that's not a word, is it?), sewing, spinning and, sometimes, even dyeing their own wool. Holiday evenings at Wharekahika (Hicks Bay) would often see me curled up on the lounge floor watching my gran and great gran weaving flax. To use a very Kiwi expression, they were guns at it. My mum is very craft-y, too, and much like her mum and grandmother before her she also knits, sews, get the idea. Somehow, the ability to be able to perform any of these arts bypassed me. Totally. It doesn't bother me too much if I don't think about it, but in June I did stop long enough to think I was missing out on something and felt a sudden burning need to give it a go. I've had better ideas. The upshot of it all was discovering that knitting just wasn't for me. I have a broken knitting needle that can attest to this fact, and a partially knitted scarf sits forlornly on the floor. It was a bit of a blow because I want to find a creative outlet or a hobby. I've been searching for one for years but haven't yet managed to find one that fits, or that I'm good at :( After that somewhat sobering realisation it seemed like every knitting book I came across served merely to confirm what I had just discovered: that I suck most awesomely at knitting. And it wasn't the more rational titles that made me think that, it was the insane ones - the really way out kinda things you can do with some wool and a pair of needles. I'm not talking socks, jerseys or scarves, as you'll see in just a moment. Here are 5 knitting books that remind me of how truly terrible I am at knitting. For my next magic trick I'm going to try to crochet (and hope I don't manage to ruin that for myself in some strange way). Wish me luck, and enjoy the recommendations :)

Vampire knits : projects to keep you knitting from twilight to dawn / Genevieve Miller
Surrender to the allure of knits inspired by the immortals we all love to fear. If you adore Twilight, True Blood,or The Vampire Diaries, this collection of 28 imaginative and beautiful projects is sure to captivate.

Charmed knits : projects for fans of Harry Potter / Alison Hansel
Sit and Knit a Spell You'll soon be knitting enchanting things you didn't know were within your powers. Charmed Knits offers dozens of patterns for items that evoke the mystique of Harry Potter - a Wizard Robe, an Invisibility Shawl, a Quidditch Sweater, Ron's Ragg Raglan, a Clock Blanket, Harry Christmas Ornaments, and more. Easy-to-follow patterns, color photos of the finished projects, and illustrations of special stitch patterns and design elements make it easy for all knitters - from beginners to those at Mrs. Weasley's level - to work knitting magic. Charmed Knits whisks you away on a wonderful journey. Along the way, you can pick patterns inspired by the Weasleys, stock up at Diagon Alley, show your house colors, conjure up gifts, or create pieces to help you feel at home in the magical world of Harry Potter.

Knitting with balls : a hands-on guide to knitting for the modern man / Michael del Vecchio
Men knit ... and have for centuries. Soldiers, cowboys, and sailors traditionally knitted their own garments and today's men are following suit. Don't let society squelch the truth about men and knitting any longer! You can join the uprising of male knitters, even if you've never touched a pair of needles. Featuring classic men's designs with an edgy twist, Michael del Vecchio's bold new guide will show you: 22 original patterns, from the Tribal Sweater to the Felted Military Belt, all the basics a guy needs to teach himself to knit, clearly illustrated, step-by-step instructions for every stitch, how to alter and design your own patterns, tips on how to start your own revolutionary men's knitting group.

Knit your own royal wedding / Fiona Goble
With a cast of characters including the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Camilla, Price Harry, the Archbishop of Canterbury, a variety of wedding guests plus, of course, the happy couple themselves - and even a corgi - this is one wedding souvenir that will be a must-have for any keen crafter.

Knitting with dog hair : a woof-to-warp guide to making hats, sweaters, mittens, and much more / Kendall Crolius and Anne Black Montgomery
Learn to recycle Rover into beautiful garments and accessories as the authors teach you this wacky new spin on an old craft. Knitting with Dog Hair is the definitive guide to putting on the dog! In this tip-filled, easy-to-use book, the authors tell:

  • How to make Afghan or a beret from your Beagle: you pet can yield yarn
  • How to collect, clean, and store your pooch's fur
  • How to modify your patterns to accommodate pet-spun yarn
  • How to find experienced pet hair spinners, a guide to resources and suppliers

  • From mittens from a Malamute to caps from a Collie, this illustrated guide is the creative answer to that vexing shedding problem. This fetching book is certain to be this year's best in show!

    Tosca's comment: I have no words. Truly.


    Rachael said...

    Such a pity you think you suck at knitting. I've just taken up knitting again, learnt a lot and am loving it. But those books would scare me!
    Knitting's so changed from when I last tried - there's heap of amazing people doing loads of incredible stuff (like the books...). BUT - just like you wouldn't expect to be reading Dickens or Tolstoy 3 weeks after learning to read - don't expect to be knitting this stuff until you've got some miles (of yarn) under your belt. And scarves are too big for beginners, you'd be better with a shorter piece that you sew up into a wonky hat, and some company to put you right when you go wrong - you'd be suprised at how quickly you can learn.

    catatonia said...

    Good grief, a month later and I finally comment. I'm so sorry! Thanks to your comment I'm going to give it another go and see what happens. And not cry (too hard) if the scarf ends up overly (?) crooked. If I tilt my head sideways it won't seem so bad, right? :) I'm going to take your advice and start with a wonky hat, gather some supportive friends who knit, and see where I end up!

    - tosca